It’s a small world, after all. Turns out Tom Hanks, who plays Mister Rogers in the upcoming movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is actually related to Fred Rogers.
Ancestry.com discovered that the two are sixth cousins. Their common ancestor was Johannes Meffert, and their ancestors had the last name of Mefford.
“Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins sharing the same 5x great-grandfather…who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century,” Ancestry spokeswoman Keri Madonna told CNN on Tuesday.
“No, impossible! You’re pulling our leg,” Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson said when Access Hollywood told them the news.
“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks, who bears a passing resemblance to Rogers, said. He claims he had no idea they were related when he took the role of the iconic children’s show host.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood tells the story of a reporter, played by Matthew Rhys, who experiences a profound change in the way he sees the world after he meets Mister Rogers. The film is based on Rogers’ real-life friendship with journalist Tom Junod.
Rogers, who died in 2003, ran Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood from 1968-2001. He is well-known for being an advocate for children and a proponent of treating children with kindness and empathy. His show also tackled everyday issues for children such as sibling jealousy, how to deal with a new baby, when a pet dies, divorce, and moving to a new neighborhood. He addressed racism by having guests of color on his show, and he even created an episode dealing with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Rogers received over 40 honorary degrees and several awards for his work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy.